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Ara Taiohi Celebrates an Inclusive Commonwealth

Ara Taiohi Celebrates an Inclusive Commonwealth

Ara Taiohi, peak body for youth development in New Zealand, is celebrating an inclusive and youth centred Commonwealth on Commonwealth Day 2016 today. “The Commonwealth are doing incredible work to ensure that young people are actively engaged nation building across a diverse international community,” says Anya Satyanand, Executive Officer at Ara Taiohi.

Satyanand’s comments come on her return from Pretoria, South Africa, where Ara Taiohi presented at the Commonwealth Conference on Youth Work. The theme of the conference was “Engaging Young People in Nation Building: The Youth Worker’s Role”.

“I was invited to attend in order to present on the work that Ara Taiohi has been doing, including the creation of a professional association for youth workers in New Zealand,” says Satyanand. She was joined by youth development representatives from across the five regions of the Commonwealth, Africa, Asia, Europe, Canada and the Pacific.

“The Commonwealth clearly consider young people as assets to a country’s development who should be empowered to realise their potential. CCYW2016 focused on the role of youth work as an adaptive and future focused profession, to empower young people to lead change in their countries. More than 60% of the population of the Commonwealth is below 30 years old. In lots of ways, the theme of the conference connects with our Youth Week 2016 theme, Aroha Mai, Aroha Atu: Giving Back is Giving Forward, as discussion centred on how investing in young people is an investment in the future.”

Ara Taiohi as peak body for youth development in New Zealand, represents nearly 900 members from across the youth development sector. “Our strategic priorities are to connect the youth sector, raise the standard of work with young people, champion youth development and promote sustainability. This year as part of our work we are establishing a professional body for youth workers in order to set and promote professional standards and provide strong accountability and voice for the profession,” says Satyanand.

“It was amazing to be a part of the CCYW2016 conference and realise that our work to raise the standards and status of work with young people and youth work in particular is paralleled by work happening overseas. The Commonwealth Youth Programme have developed a purposeful and aspirational strategic plan to do with youth development, and their vision to support youth development across the Commonwealth is inspiring. It was encouraging to see the value that the Commonwealth places on youth work as one of the key tools for engaging young people in nation building, and to be a part of the international conversation across Commonwealth countries about the professionalisation of youth work.”

Satyanand’s presentation on the long road to a professional body for youth workers in New Zealand was well received by the 400 participants. Satyanand said, “It was great to profile some of the things that are happening in New Zealand to ensure that young people are supported to develop into thriving members of our community, our democracy and our economy.”

The two formal outcomes of the conference were the formation of an international alliance of youth worker associations and an international consortium of academic institutions who will be working to make youth work training more widely accessible throughout the Commonwealth.

“These are both initiatives which will make a big difference for developing and developed countries alike,” says Satyanand. “We’re super excited about being part of the steering committee with colleagues from Jamaica, Sierra Leone, England, India, Pakistan and Australia. We’re looking to shape an alliance that will help us to advance youth development at international level, and share awesome youth work practice… One of the best things about CCYW2016 was hearing stories from across the world of really good youth work in action and programmes which are giving young people the skills and self belief to participate in every way. Hearing about ‘The Fifth Space’ in India and innovative youth justice work in Canada was inspiring and I can’t wait to share these stories with our members in New Zealand.”

The Commonwealth have developed a Youth Development Index, which measures the status of 15-29 year-olds in 170 countries according to five key domains. “New Zealand is currently second in the world after Australia, and our young people are doing pretty well in terms of education, health and well-being. However, our civic and political participation rates for young people are really poor and we have some work to do to lift these statistics,” said Satyanand.

“CCYW2016 was a showcase of Commonwealth’s intentions and hard work to make change for good in the world. The Commonwealth Youth Programme opened up an exciting conversation across nations at CCYW2016 about young people, youth development, nation building and colonisation, and Ara Taiohi is committed to supporting this conversation to continue,” said Satyanand. “Inclusion is a word we use a lot in New Zealand, particularly when it comes to education. The Commonwealth are making space for developing and developed countries to sit alongside each other and participate in a conversation about making the world a more inclusive place for our young people globally.”

For more information about youth development in New Zealand and the professionalisation of youth work here, check out www.arataiohi.org.nz

For more information about the Commonwealth, check out http://thecommonwealth.org/


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